Random Lugnuts: 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame Nominees
Topics: NASCAR Hall of Fame, Fred Lorenzen, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Inman What is Random Lugnuts? It's random bits of stock car racing commentary written on an irregular basis by an irregular racing fan. The name is a reference to the lugnuts that go flying off a car during a pit stop: you never know where they are going to go, what they're going to do when they get there, they can be annoying, they're often useless after a race, and every once in a while someone gets hit and they don't know exactly where it came from.
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July 11, 2010
This is commentary on three of the nominees for the 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame class. The full list can be found after the commentary.
Fred Lorenzen's nomination to the 2011 Hall of Fame class was met with immediate questions. Why would he be nominated ahead of other, more successful drivers with championships or more wins?
The simple answer is, counting championships and wins is something for a record book. What NASCAR built is a Hall of Fame. Fred Lorenzen is apparently more famous than other drivers with more trophies. Contributions to the sport don't have to come in the form of victories, and his contributions were enough to bump him into the nominee field ahead of a few NASCAR champions.
I doubt, however, that Lorenzen will make it into the Hall in the next few years, considering the strength of the nominee field already, not counting those who will become eligible within the next half decade.
Illinois isn't exactly a great source of NASCAR talent, but I'm okay if "The Elmhurst Express" doesn't make it into the Hall, knowing that Rockford native Chad Knaus is rapidly ensuring that a space is reserved for him when he becomes eligible. So I know we'll at least have one in the Hall someday. Whether we get two really is up to Lorenzen, because I don't think Roscoe's Danica Patrick is going to make it.
When Darrell Waltrip is inducted into the Hall of Fame, whether it be the Class of 2011 or a future year, I do hope acknowledgement is made of his "second career," that of a broadcaster.
The earliest NASCAR race I can remember watching was the 2001 Daytona 500, Waltrip's first in his long career for Fox. Of course the overriding memory of the race will always be the death of Dale Earnhardt, but before attention turned back to the scene of the last lap accident, I remember Darrell cheering little brother Michael to his first Cup victory in NASCAR's biggest event, chased to the end by his new teammate.
Since then his career has included a movie role in the animated film Cars, an Emmy nomination and all along the way rewriting the language of NASCAR: as annoying as it was in the beginning, these days NASCAR races just aren't the same unless they're started with, "Boogity, boogity, boogity, let's go racing boys!"
While arguments can be made for either Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Jimmie Johnson to be the "face of NASCAR," it's voice is undisputably "ol' D.W."
NASCAR (along with most motorsports) is a driver-centric sport. The rest of the crew toil in near anonymity to build a car and maintain it during an event, while the drivers get nearly all of the attention when the car wins. There are a few exceptions, and I'm always happy to see the guys outside the car get some credit.
Inducting Dale Inman would go a long way towards recognizing the contributions that the crews make in the wins and championships that the drivers get all the credit for.
Dale Inman won seven championships as Richard Petty's crew chief. It is Dale's eighth that really raises eyebrows. Richard Petty never won a championship without Dale Inman, but Dale Inman won a championship without Richard Petty. Think about that. I'm not saying that it was all the car, but I can say that it wasn't all Richard Petty, either.
The Full List
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